Last year, CareerBuilder found that over 100 occupations in the U.S. had more job posting activity than actual hiring, but that didn't inspire many companies to re-evaluate how they attract and retain talent. While some organizations invest in social media to better engage candidates, researchers say "...they are ignoring the most basic aspect of engaging talent -- consistent communication." A few years ago, I shifted from solopreneurship to building a team. I've seen first hand the power of earning, creating and leveraging compelling content that attracts and retains millennial talent.

Flackable, my public relations and digital marketing agency, is a young company in a competitive field that has found success through our own online efforts -- creating a strong digital footprint, earning and leveraging industry credibility, maintaining an influential social media presence and ensuring our employees gain recognition online and off.

While there are several layers to finding and keeping the best millennial hires, there are a few universal public relations and digital marketing strategies that are effective across industry lines.

Attracting Millennials: Get Digital

Although starting out as a virtual agency, earlier this year I moved Flackable into a Philadelphia market saturated with creative agencies. While both our model and niche practice are quite distinct -- and despite the fact that we serve a national client base -- we quickly found ourselves competing for new talent against well established agencies in the region who we otherwise wouldn't view as competition.

Our advantage, however, is that few creative agencies truly practice what they preach. While they excel at driving public relations and digital marketing campaigns for their clients, their efforts on behalf of their own companies are generally lackluster. That has left the door open for us to use our industry recognition, robust social media presence and edgy brand as a powerful talent magnet.

As a result of our local SEO dominance and overall digital footprint, we receive a steady inflow of resumes. Whenever we have an immediate opening, rather than purchasing job ads, we tweet out to our tens of thousands of Twitter followers to attract applicants. When we proactively reach out to potential recruits, they often already know quite a bit about us from our local public relations and marketing presence.

Businesses can have similar success by committing to a public relations and digital marketing plan, but also by expanding their view of marketing beyond a sales-focused initiative. CareerArc found that 75 percent of job seekers consider a company's brand before even submitting an application, so employers must understand that their online audience goes beyond potential customers. By incorporating content and messaging that positions the company as an attractive workplace, they can strengthen their talent pool and better compete for top candidates.

Retaining Millennials: Build Their Brands

Dubbed the job hopping generation, millennials are known for leaving their current jobs and taking new opportunities as they arise. And in 2016, 21 percent of millennials did just that. When employees don't feel valued, believe they have no opportunity to grow or aren't exercising their skill sets, they have no problem looking elsewhere.

At Flackable, we welcome new hires to the team with a new hire press release. This gives them the credit and visibility they deserve while immediately engaging them in our public relations and digital marketing efforts. According to a recent Gallup study, employees who are "engaged and thriving" are 59 percent less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months.

After that initial announcement, we encourage our team members to continue building their personal brands by contributing to our blogs, penning articles for industry publications and sharing thought leadership in a number of other ways.

The counter argument to this approach is that providing employees with individual recognition and visibility will often prompt recruiters and competitors to pursue them. This is why many businesses try to shelter their talent from exposure. I make sure my employees are aware that recruiters may in fact come after them once their names and faces are out in the open, and I explain that those soliciting them for job opportunities probably would not have given them the same opportunities for recognition. At the end of the day, giving our employees the recognition they deserve has done much more to help our retention efforts than harm them.

Employers should establish strong line of communication with their top employees; it's essential to retaining millennial talent. In addition to including them in the company's public communication efforts, it requires an equal level of internal communication for them to feel like they have a true stake in the success of the business, which, ultimately, they do.

Published on: Oct 13, 2017